Instagram | dontlovemeimdead

People Reveal Seemingly Harmless Parenting Mistakes That Messed Them Up For Life

Paddy Clarke 13 Nov 2019

Parenting is far from easy. Children are essentially small balls of meat who will try and kill themselves in the most inventive manner every single day, and you have to try and stop them.

While you're preventing them from doing all manner of daft things, you're also shaping them for the rest of their lives, which is a large task. So, one person took to Reddit to ask people what some avoidable mistakes were when raising a child, by asking: "What is a seemingly harmless parenting mistake that will majorly f*ck up a child later in life?"

Here are some of the stories and advice that people had to share, collected for your ease and convenience.

(Please be aware that some of these stories may contain instances of abuse.)

1. The Overjustification Effect

Instagram | sportsmassageshropshire1

"A seemingly harmless mistake is rewarding your child with something when they do something they already enjoy. Take, for example, reading. If a child just enjoys reading, let the child read without giving any reward. Once you start rewarding the child for that act, their intrinsic motivation gets replaced. It's called the overjustification effect." — BlueVentureatWork

This is a fascinating idea! Although, as a kid, I would have done all the reading I could with a reward or not!

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2. Breaking Promises

Unsplash | Ryan Franco

"Not following through with your promises. If you told your child you were buying ice cream tomorrow in the hopes that they'd forget and the next day when they ask you tell them no they'll see you as unreliable. (Ice cream is just the first thing that came to my mind, I'm sure someone else can explain better what I'm trying to say here without sounding so ridiculous)" — A_H_Corvus

If a parent doesn't follow through with their promises, then how can they expect a child to follow through with promises. A lot of the time you are teaching by example.

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3. Excessive Worrying

Instagram | facts_world_official_

"Worrying. My mom was always so worried about everything I did. I know it was because she loves and cares about me, but god damn can I go out one night without you thinking I might die?!

"She still worries about stuff. There was a car accident in her neighborhood like a year ago in the middle of the night and she called me at 2 am to make sure it wasn't me. I live like 30 minutes away, and there's nothing in her town for me to be over there unless I am visiting her lol" — candywandysandyxandy

Excessive worrying can be very common, and for a child, an adult, it can be extremely stressful and annoying. It is important to recognize at some point that your child, is not an actual child anymore.

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4. Teasing Kids

Unsplash | Kristina Flour

"I found that when my parents teased me about stuff I was clearly uncomfortable with it made me tell them less later in life. I have a good relationship with my parents but I don't tell them lots about my life because it's easier if they don't know/tease about it." — relishinabub

I think this can be taken a variety of ways. It's good to be able to poke fun and have a little joke with your family, but obviously, if they're just outright berating you then it is a different story.

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5. Covert Incest

Unsplash | Joel Overbeck

"Treating your young child as a friend you're venting to. It's extremely traumatic to be your parent's diary." — dumbgoddess

Another user explained that this is known as Covert Incest, and is a type of abuse that occurs when an adult looks to their child for emotional support instead of another adult.

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6. Keeping Them Away From Financing

Instagram | kjandrey

"In a different vein of thought: making finances a taboo subject. Financial illiteracy can be devastating once entering adulthood. Want to keep your children from making your own money mistakes? Don't be too proud to teach them what those mistakes were." — ArchAmber

This person went on post an update saying that the point isn't to inundate your kids with debt at a young age, but to teach them about saving and how to budget their money at an appropriate age.

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7. Discouraging Curiosity

Instagram | ss_silentspeaker

"Discouraging them from asking questions. Yes it can be annoying to keep hearing 'but why daddy/mummy?' but I've met far too many adults who admit they stopped asking questions because as a kid their parents would shut them up or be like 'there he/she goes asking questions again.' inquisitive minds need that fostered." — rccrisp

When I used to work teaching young children, some of the questions they ask can be remarkably complex and out of the blue, and sometimes it can be quite daunting to say, "I don't know," to a kid. However, you should never make them feel as though being curious about the world is a negative trait!

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8. Not Congratulating Children

Instagram | miya.park

"Not congratulating your child when they achieve something. A friend of mine never got any praise from his parents growing up. Always felt that he wasn’t good enough. Show the child that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed!" — michaelceratonin

Not congratulating your children for their achievements can lead to long term psychological issues, including insecurity and depression.

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9. Sweet Rewards

Instagram | smile___0076

"Rewarding with candy or sweets. Not only does it make behaviors that should be intrinsically rewarding behaviors extrinsically rewarded, it develops an unhealthy relationship with sugar, tying the idea of pleasure and value to sweetness. Once kids with that connection get old enough to buy their own sugar they retain the connection and can simply 'reward' themselves constantly, increasing the likelihood of developing disordered eating patterns." — yargmematey

As soon as I got my own money I realized I could eat less at school and buy more albums at the weekend. Imagine kids now saving up for albums, seems like such a strange concept.

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10. Making Them Feel Guilty About Money

Instagram | tammy_llee

"Don't make your children feel like they're the source of all your financial woes. Talking about finances and complaining about finances are very different things." — pawsitivelynerdy

This just sounds like a form of psychological abuse, no one at such a young age should be made to feel like a burden.

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11. Pushing Kids Too Much

Unsplash | Alex Iby

"Creating an environment where you tell your kid their feelings aren't valid just because they aren't the same as yours or your kid processes their emotions differently than you. Angrily telling your kid they are too sensitive/dramatic/theatrical/hormonal/etc is just going to mess your kid up and encourage them to bottle emotions up to avoid upsetting you, and is going to lead to major communication issues.

"Also, constantly pushing an intelligent or self-motivated child to work harder and harder and do 'better'. You’re setting your kid up to be a perfectionist, which can be incredibly damaging to his or her mental health in the long run." — dreamer4659

Being a "perfectionist" can lead to anxiety, and can prevent you from achieving your goals due to the fact that what you are doing feels never good enough.

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12. Stifling Creativity

Instagram | yourtalentstudio

"Pretty much telling you that whatever activity that you enjoy doing is annoying or dumb. I used to love to sing. I was in chorus and would play my favorite songs over and over to learn the words.

"Not only did my sisters tease me for it, but my parents told me to shut up constantly. So I stopped singing. I must have been terrible, right? I sing when I'm alone, or jokingly with some friends.

"What really broke me was when I went to visit everyone for the holidays and my sister said that she was surprised I never pursued singing since I seemed to love it so much when I was younger. I nearly started crying and had to bite my tongue so I wouldn't scream at her for being one of the reasons I stopped." — bunnyrut

Your family should be there to support you, especially when it comes to creative expression, as without creative expression, the world would be a much duller place.

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13. Trying To Cover Up Hateful Behavior

Unsplash | Luis Galvez

"Telling them that the family members who are mean to them or neglect them, love them." — everybodylovesmemore

This can mess up a child's perception of what love and care really are, and can lead to them not spotting damaging relationships later in life.

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14. Making Your Kid The Butt Of Every Joke

Unsplash | Yutacar

"Using them as props for jokes in public. Glad you got a kick out of it, dad." — mindfeces

Someone took to the comments to recount a story of how their father challenged them to a drinking competition in front of their father's friends and ended up being violently ill all while the father took photos of them and laughing.

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15. Saying: "I Don't Care Who Started It"

Instagram | lisaboon86

"I grew up with friends whose siblings would target the one with the bad temper, provoke them into a rage, then cry and play victim when they got slapped. In this case, it does matter who started it. A parent has to make it clear that violence isn't okay, but neither is provoking someone into said violence.

"It doesn't matter that said person never hit or kicked while their sibling did- they never would have gotten hurt in the first place if they didn't encourage the aggression, to begin with. Children are clever and will find loopholes in their parents' rules. Parents need to be better and snuff out that kind of BS when it starts. If they don't they'll raise a manipulator and a scapegoat- one will use them and one will resent them. It's a lose-lose all because of a simple rule." — akelton07

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16. Not Respecting Privacy

Instagram | dontlovemeimdead

"My mom used to go through my trash. She always said it was to make sure I wasn't throwing out anything 'important' but I know she also just wanted to be nosey... She used to rummage through my drawers and read very private adult fanfictions that I used to write and then confront me about them. [...]

"She did this all the way into my adulthood. The last time, she rummaged through my sock drawer and found a box of condoms, and confronted me about it at work and shamed me for having sex with my boyfriend. At f*cking work. She humiliated me and shamed me until I cried [...] I'm 31 and just now starting to learn to respect my boyfriend's boundaries and privacy." — dick_chiggers

This is just straight-up horrible. Not respecting people's boundaries is one thing, but to call you out and degrade you like that at work is unforgivable. Thankfully, this person explained that they are now doing much better with their loving partner away from this toxicity.

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17. Never Letting Kids Experience Losing

Instagram | alumandink

"Telling your kid they are always a winner. We love our kids and want them to feel special, but it's setting them up to be disappointed later in life when they find out not everyone can win. Let them feel the disappointments early on, and teach them it's ok. They'll grow up better able to handle the stresses of life." — supersonic-hedgehog

Obviously you don't want to crush all of the hope out of a child! However, it is important for them to get used to the feeling of defeat every now and then.

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18. Never Apologising To Your Kids

Simon Rae | Unsplash

"Never saying sorry to your kids. My mom only just recently started telling me sorry when she gets worked up. It's built up such a resentment for her over the years, and I also have trouble saying sorry myself because of it. Tell your kids sorry, especially if you overreact to something they did." — skeletonfather

Being able to admit your wrong is an important trait to have; and, it is a very important thing to teach to your kids as well!

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19. Treating Crying As If It's Something Only Weak People Do

Unsplash | Tom Pumford

"My dad, in particular, used to yell at me for crying, which only made me cry more, which made him yell more, and you get the point. In high school, I tried to bring up the possibility of me having anxiety problems that I'd spoken to the school counselor about because my friends made me go since they were worried. He told me I was just a drama queen. I can't express that I'm anxious or stressed around my dad because 'others have it worse.'

"Even now I'm 21 and seeing a psychiatrist in a couple weeks because I've just felt so bad lately and I would never let my dad know. I think I'd rather die than my dad know I've been seeing a psychiatrist and discussing the possibility of me having OCD with said psychiatrist (which does explain a lot and is actually kind of comforting for me to know) because he'd get so mad at me for being weak." — potatobug25

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20. That They'll Forget Things When They're Older

Alejandra Grillo | Unsplash

"The belief that they won’t remember because they’re young. I remember." — Battliz

This is specifically true for words, and the tone in which you say them, as one person heartbreakingly wrote:

"I don't quite remember all the words my mom said to me or all the specific things she did to me when I was younger, but I remember how she made me feel. That doesn't go away." — Battliz

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